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December 18, 2000
Friedman's Pen Earns Disdain
By Ahmed Amr.

There are few journalists in America, or Israel, who can report on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict without once acknowledging the heroic Palestinian uprising. But you can count on Thomas Friedman (NYT, Dec 12, 2000) to take a stab at it. He is the kind of 'journalist' who would rather talk about Israel and Chad then address the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Friedman is not a subtle man. He wants to convince you that Israel is a democracy 'like America'. He would also like Bush to renew the American carte blanche for Israel so that the Israeli occupation army can continue their killing spree.

Well, the Apartheid regime in South Africa was also a multi-party democracy. For whites. That is why Israel and Apartheid South Africa were such good pals. If I were Israeli, I would not boast so audibly about the fact that Israelis have continued to vote for governments willing to torment and humiliate the Palestinians. When the subject of the repressing the Kurds comes up, the vast majority Iraqis will always be able to point the finger at their dictator, Saddam. I would also remind Friedman that Hitler came to power on a majority vote count.

It should embarrass every Israelis and every American Jew that the only majority Jewish country in the world has continually voted for governments that would torment and dispossess the Palestinians. It should shame them more that their partisans in the press contrived arguments, often laced with overt bigotry, to 'explain' the repression that is the very fabric of a thirty-three year military occupation.

As an American-Arab, I will remind every American journalist who is an Israel Firster, including those on the Christian right, that the crimes that were inflicted against the Palestinians will not escape the history books. These crimes are an outrage against every decent American value. And I pose to them this simple hypothetical question. If the much tormented Gypsies of the world were to come up with their own version of Zionist Ideology, which little country would we vacate to grant them a homeland as "Gypsy as Israel is Jewish"? Tunisia? Malta? What would Jesus do?

I am not Palestinian, but I know their history, as does Friedman. He is an ideological pamphleteer who has repeatedly used his pen to extend Israel a license to kill, maim, humiliate and economically pulverize a native people rising up for their freedom. You have to wonder which Aparthied daily papers he would have chosen to work for had he been born in Johannesburg.

Sulzberger and Friedman are deluding themselves if they think they can continue marketing the image of a 'glorious Israel besieged by savage natives'. These zealous ideologues have had their day in the sun, for over fifty years. Circling their wagons will bring no relief. For now, there are ample and cheap tools to explore the mountains of tarnished journalism that constitute the archives of The New York Times Publishing Company. At the dawn of the information age, data mining the Archives at the Times is a task that has the potential to cause volcanic eruptions. The historic record will certainly shine a dim light on the American Media coverage of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

In Friedman's most recent journalistic debacles,'We the People' (NYT, Dec 12, 2000). We have him lecturing Prime Minister Barak by reusing Nahum Barnea's line "What are we, America?"

No, Friedman, Israel is not America. Israel is more like Aparthied South Africa. The only thing that is remotely similar about America and Israel is America's policy in the Middle East. Thanks to the Jewish lobby, that policy has a transparent 'made in Israel' stamp on it. But aside from that, there is nothing America can learn from Israel about democracy or due process or the rule of law or civil rights or even a constitution.

Israel does not have a constitution and if it did, the first line would read "We the People of Israel, having vanquished the Palestinians, acknowledge the great services rendered by Sulzberger and his publishing company for their unrelenting support against the restless natives who dared to revolt against the iron fist military rule of the glorious IDF, whose press releases are now enshrined in the archives of The New York Times. "

I would suggest that Friedman export a copy of our constitution to his friends in Israel. Don't forget to include the amendments. They are of vital importance. If he has enough room in the envelope, he would do well to include a copy of the Geneva Conventions and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Back to Friedman's pathetic piece of journalism where he whines about the "Bushies using every legal maneuver to prevent any recount." Friedman should spend more time being concerned about the implication of an American journalist supporting deadly repression by the army of a foreign country. Yes, Friedman, Israel is a foreign country.

Let me also assure both Sulzberger and Friedman that the first line of the U.S. constitution does not read 'We The New York Times'. Neither are they are in a position to talk about numerical legitimacy. Take another look at the recent Gallup poll where three out of four Americans don't even believe 'national' newspapers can "get the facts straight". Is that the same 'people' Friedman presumes to speak for?

Get a grip, Friedman. Get out of the city, get some oxygen and get some sleep. When you wake up, America will be a livelier democracy basking in the light of an information age that will view your suspect pen with disdain.


  January 3, 2001